Darth Vader always saw himself as a powerful force (no pun intended) to be reckoned with, especially when he was an aspiring young Jedi rising through the ranks of the Jedi Order. The tortured soul was once a powerful yet caring soul named Anakin Skywalker, who believed that he was destined to be the most powerful Jedi ever. It was clear to see the seeds of hubris were planted and shown throughout the Star Wars films and other mediums.
However, when Vader sustained injuries on the volcanic planet Mustafar during his life-changing duel with his former Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was not as powerful as he once believed. This led to an outcome that not even Vader ever saw coming, but his pride blinded him once again, and his penance was to be more machine than man with his limbs severed and his body scorched from the volcanic atmosphere.
I remember feeling the boy who Obi-Wan trained was officially gone at that moment, and now he was corrupted by the guidance he once sought for direction. The soul of Anakin Skywalker was tarnished and now forever lost to being a puppet for Emperor Shreev Palapatine’s but to the eyes of their enemies. He was a cyborg enforcer. A sword of the Galactic Empire that was not afraid to hack and slash his enemies or those who stood in his way. Over the last two decades serving the Empire, Darth Vader had killed many enemies that soon became next Tuesday’s problem for him. However, a new enemy stands before the Sith Lord: Luke Skywalker, his son.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
As I read the comic, I scratched my head and wondered why Vader would want to kill his flesh and blood? But the more I thought of that. I remembered reading somewhere that elaborated that Anakin and Darth Vader are two different men inhabiting the same body. Vader wanted to shed what remained of Anakin Skywalker from his psyche to the point of only Darth Vader, the Sith Lord remaining in the driver’s seat.
I figured that Vader would want to kill Luke since the young Rebel Alliance hero represents the young Jedi Knight he once was. However, in a way, Luke depicted the final piece of Anakin Skywalker lingering in his subconscious. Which led me to feel writer Greg Pak wanted us to think as we read this comic. It was clear to see conflict arose surrounding the location of Anakin and if he was truly gone, but with his child coming forth, it felt the woes of the past were coming full circle.
I feel the thing about “Star Wars” is how several stories from the “Star Wars: Legends” expand on deeper lore and psychological trauma. For example, one novel, such as “Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire,” shows Darth Vader as a man who hates himself, especially the parts that remind him of his past as Anakin. In one part of the book, as he meditates, he reminisces about the desire to be the way he was, physically. It is here that he quickly renounces his past as the weak and fragile Anakin.
Treading back to “Darth Vader no.13,” which ties in the “War of the Bounty Hunters” arc, Darth Vader knows that his son Luke is a massive threat to him. As he remembers his duel with Luke on Cloud City, he sees the young Jedi hopeful as Obi-Wan’s hope and a potentially great asset to the Emperor.
In this scene, I felt Pak threw us an emotional curveball by illustrating the conflict of Vader wanting to get rid of Luke. Because at that moment, he was essentially the last connection tethering Anakin Skywalker to reality, but that was a dead soul at this point, and the thought of Vader remaining was looming.
In addition, I also think that he wants to get rid of Luke because he knows that the young Jedi was close to beating him back at Cloud City. In Vader’s opinion, if Luke were to defeat him, the Emperor would have gained a new and younger apprentice. And let’s face it, given his age and cybernetic enhancements, Vader is no spring chicken, and he does not want to be replaced. He’s not the agile warrior he once was and. And I know he blames Obi-Wan for that.
After being restored to full function due to his battle against the Emperor. Vader travels to the lair of Bokku the Hutt and inquires about the whereabouts of Han Solo. While Vader’s partner Ochi of Bestoon does all the talking for the Sith Lord, Vader wants to use Han Solo as a bargaining chip so that he can lure Luke and finally defeat the young Jedi. Vader also learns that Boba Fett has lost Han Solo. Ochi also gets Bokku on board with their plan to find Solo by enticing him to betray Jabba since he, too, is a gangster. Vader, Ochi, and Bokku form an uneasy alliance by traveling to Hutt Space on board the Hutt’s barge. Bokku has given Vader a lead on a group of druids slicing data to find Han’s whereabouts.
While traveling to Hutt Space, Bokku asks Ochi if Vader can be trusted, and the assassin said that the Sith Lord has never lied to him. Bokku notes that Vader is a Sith Lord and Ochi agrees but also states that since Bokku is a Hutt, he should know that there is no safe haven anywhere and that “you just have to find the biggest monster to stand behind.” When Ochi is about to finish the sentence, he and Bokku are interrupted by a droid announcing that they arrive at Hutt Space, and they head to a planet with a droid-run pirate repair center and data hub.
I felt that Pak added the conversation between Ochi and Bokku, which echoed a common theme in Vader’s story. The theme of betrayal. Even as Anakin, he thought that those who went against him were his enemy. When the Jedi Order denied him the rank of Master despite being a member of the Jedi Council, Anakin felt a sense of betrayal from the Jedi, which further led him to the Dark Side.
He also felt betrayed by Padme when she came to him on Mustafar, and then Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared out of her ship, ready to fight him for the fate of the galaxy. And recently, he felt betrayed and lied to by Palpatine when the Sith Master promised him that the power of the Dark Side could save Padme. Ironically, when Anakin was eventually redeemed, he betrayed Palpatine by throwing him down the second Death Star’s shaft.
When Vader and Ochi head over to the droid repair center, they discover that they are the droids that went after the Sith Lord in the previous comic issues. Ochi thinks that this encounter will be a walk in the park, but assassin droid IG-88 appears to be leading the droids. It is the Sith Lord whose humanity has officially faded, and now his blood and bones were replaced by wires and power converters. It was clear all signs were pointing to the notion this was going to a fight worthy of this iconic franchise.
For those who aren’t familiar with IG-88. Let’s just say he is no ordinary droid. He is a deadly assassin droid armed with a full arsenal of weapons. A one-person army if you will that would take more than an army of Imperial Stormtroopers to defeat. IG-88 also knows about Vader’s recent battle against the Emperor and the damage he suffered.
During the fight, it was clear to see Vader started to have the upper hand with his crimson blade lightsaber by severing 88’s arm, but the droid also possessed a trick up his sleeve. After Vader threatens to cut off 88’s head to get the information that he needs, the droid uses a device to control Vader’s mechanical arm and tries to slice off his head.
Bokku is watching Vader get influenced by the droid from his barge, implying that he might betray the Sith Lord. The Sith Lord questions how 88 was able to access his mechanical parts, but the droid does not share his information due to the terms of his employment. Vader uses the Force to get a hold of the controller and uses it to control IG-88. The droid is forced to shoot himself with his blaster.
The droids try to kill Vader, but the Sith Lord makes short work of the droids, and Bokku tries to capitalize on the chaos by firing on the Sith Lord with his barge’s guns. However, Vader overpowers the droids and uses IG-88’s arm to get information on Solo. Through Ochi, Vader learns about Crimson Dawn and threatens Bokku for attempting to betray him. The Hutt wavers by telling Vader that the Sith Lord is unstoppable.
At the end of the comic, IG-88 visits the Umbaran Administrator Sly Moore on Coruscant in his other droid body. Here we discover that she was behind IG-88, having access to Darth Vader’s mechanical parts. At the end of the previous issue, Sly Moore is seen overseeing Vader’s rehabilitation to make sense as to how she was able to access his parts and send IG-88 after Vader.
Moore is not just an Imperial at the top. She is one of the Emperor’s aides and has been at his side when he was still Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. What makes her even more dangerous is that she is Force-Sensitive, and she had a vendetta to kill Vader since she is afraid that he would grow more powerful than the Emperor. In the end, we see her with a group of people who look like they’re out for Vader’s blood.
Raffaele Lenco does the art, and Jason Keith had many splashes that set the tone for this issue. The first splash of Vader igniting his lightsaber and having killed Bokku’s Gamorean guards made Vader look more menacing and ruthless. The Sith Lord wants to find Han Solo to find Luke Skywalker and put an end to him. My other favorite splash page was of IG-88 appearing with guns blazing.
I felt the panel was a dose of nostalgia which brought me back to the first time. I remembering seeing IG-88 in the “Empire Strikes Back.” At the time, I thought to myself he wasn’t all that serious. Of course, the video game “Shadows of the Empire” quickly changed my novel perception with his extremely tough boss fight.
Also, it was fascinating seeing an IG droid fight in “The Mandalorian”. However, Vader may have had the advantage, but 88 was not like the clankers (term coined by clone Captain Rex) Vader fought against in the Clone Wars as Anakin Skywalker. My favorite splash of all was when Vader deflected the shot from Bokku’s barge with his lightsaber while the droids surrounding him, along with Ochi, blew away from the impact. The last splash of Sly Moore and her followers evokes conspiracy and something sinister.
I have to wonder, though, how does Sly Moore fit into the “War of the Bounty Hunters” arc? Is she just another inner-Imperial opponent for Vader to face as he combs through the Galaxy for Han Solo to get to Luke? And who is this group or court, and why do they feel that Vader is a threat? After all, Vader is no stranger to fighting against enemies within the Imperial ranks. For example, he once had to fight against a brilliant mad scientist name Cylo who experimented on individuals by giving them cybernetic parts, one of them being a Karbin, who had similar enhancements to General Grievous. But at this point, we’ll have to see what is in store for our Sith Lord in the next issue.
“Star Wars: Darth Vader no. 13: is out now where comic books are sold.
Synopsis: Dark Lord vs Dark Droid! Darth Vader and Ochi of Bestoon embark upon a search for the carbonite-frozen body of Han Solo. Get ready for intrigue, betrayal and action in the heart of Hutt Space with the explosive reappearance of everyone’s favorite assassin droid, IG-88! …And a shocking cliffhanger brings the shadows to life!
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Raffaele Ienco
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramangna